I can't believe that I have lived in the Netherlands for almost 5 months, and I just got around to visiting the Rijksmuseum. This museum is world-famous, and the top priority of most people touring Amsterdam. While I have been fortunate enough to visit tons of other museums throughout the Netherlands, the Rijsmuseum had remained elusive...until yesterday. In May, July, and September, the lines snaking around the entrance of the museum were ridiculous, always causing me to defer my visit to a later date. Yesterday, however, I walked right into the museum, through security, and to the coat check. My Museumcard allowed me to have free admission, so my entire journey into Amsterdam only cost 6,10EUR for the round-trip train ticket. To get to the Rijksmuseum from Centraal Station, take tram 2 or 5 to Hobbemastraat.
The Rijksmuseum itself is a stunning piece of architecture. It's very reminiscent to Centraal Station's architecture, and was once described as a "cathedral". There were very few people in the museum, which allowed me to browse at my own pace without fear of standing at a painting too long. One of my favourite rooms showcased doll houses from the 16th century. These miniature houses were collected by women, and often cost the same as a modest canal house in Amsterdam's centre. Another great room showcased Delft pottery, and the original Chinese style pottery from which Delft is derived from.
Rembrandt's The Night Watch. I hadn't realized that it was such a massive canvas, and as I stood alone in front of it, I truly felt in awe. Seeing the paintings of Jan Steen, Vermeer, and Frans Hals was also wonderful. I really enjoy the traditional Dutch style of painting, which is usually very dark and heavy. After living here in the winter, where it is almost always dark or overcast, I understand why so many of the paintings were like this!
In university I studied Anatomy as well as Bioarchaeological Anthropology. Naturally, both of these disciplines dealt heavily with bones. In my last two years of school, I developed an enormous fascination with bones that still persists. Seeing the catacombs in Paris was like being a kid in a candy shop for me! So many diseased bones! I was in my element. When I discovered that the Rijksmuseum was currently showing an exhibit by Damien Hirst, I was thoroughly excited! I followed the glow-in-the-dark arrows through a winding black hallway until I reached a pitch-black room. The room could've been the size of an airplane hanger, or the size of a small closet...you literally could not tell! In the center of the room, there was a glass case with a spotlight on it. Within the case was a male skull from 1800, covered completely in diamonds. The skull has over 8,000 diamonds, and a large pearshaped diamond on the forehead (52.4 carat). It was truly amazing to see, and is currently valued at $100 million.